Safety and health at work in Pakistan

Evacuating the victims of the earthquake © ILO

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One of the key areas of decent work deficit in Pakistan is poor occupational safety and health (OSH) at the workplace in both formal and informal sectors. Most of the enterprises in the organized sectors are not aware of OSH risks and hazards, and often they do not see the importance and urgency of addressing those risks and hazards. In 2012, a massive fire engulfed a factory in Baldia, Karachi, which killed more than 250 workers. Many key sectors of the economy namely construction, mining, agriculture and fishing face significant challenges in terms of OSH risks and hazards.

According to the ILO reports, 2.2 million people die every year due to work-related accidents or illness, more than 270 million workers are injured and an estimated 160 million suffer work-related illness.

The DWCP (2016-22) focuses on development and implementation of OSH mechanism for vulnerable categories of workers in the rural economy such as agriculture, fisheries and domestic work. It supports the capacity building measures of the ILO constituents to promote occupational safety and health including social dialogue at the workplace.

The ILO has been providing technical assistance to the Government of Pakistan in light of possible ratification of relevant ILO conventions on OSH particularly the Safety and Health in Mines Convention, 1995 (No.176). In addition, it has also extended technical assistance to enhance capacity of the SCORE trainers on the modern OSH management system approaches based on the ILO Guidelines on OSH Management Systems.

In view of COVID-19 outbreak, the ILO has been supporting its social partners to combat and mitigate the effects of the pandemic at the workplace. To this end, it has developed and implemented a number of interventions, which primarily aim at educating the workers and the employers, and thereby mitigating the spread of virus in the enterprises.